We are heartbroken to announce the death yesterday morning of a remarkable young woman Alexandra Black, 22, who recently began a husbandry internship at the Conservators Center. Alex was working with one of our husbandry teams cleaning a lion enclosure, when a lion who had been locked into a separate holding enclosure somehow managed to enter the enclosure in which our team was working and killed Alex. No other humans were injured.
Although Alex was with us for a very short time, she made an impact on our community. We are a close-knit family of paid staff and volunteers and are devastated by the loss of this vibrant, smart young woman. Alex had undertaken multiple internships, the most recent of which was at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Her family has asked for those who would like to honor her memory to consider donating to Wolf Park, and we echo that request here.
We ask that you respect her family’s privacy while they are grappling with the loss of Alex and grieving for her.
When our husbandry teams clean big cat enclosures they follow a safety protocol that involves moving the cats into a separate space and securing them before humans enter the adjacent space. The specifics of what happened are still under investigation.
Our lion, Matthai, was euthanized by first responders by necessity. Matthai was a 14-year-old male who was born at the Conservators Center shortly after his mother was placed with us following a USDA-assisted confiscation in 2004.
We cannot provide further information at this time. We appreciate the outpouring of support for Alex’s family and the Conservators Center family and will provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please understand that we are all traumatized by this incident. Just as Alex’s family needs privacy in this time of mourning, our staff and volunteers also need time to grieve while we return to our work caring for the rest of our residents.